Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Son of God

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?  Some say Jesus was a purely historical figure, a moral and ethical teacher par excellence, but only a man.  Others believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel in flesh and blood.  Still others believe He was a notable prophet with a few predecessors and one superior successor.  One of Jesus’s closest friends believed this about Him: “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31) The apostle John wrote his gospel account to prove Jesus’s identity.  In fact, the opening verse tells us precisely who Jesus is:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  As we find out in verses 14-17, the Word is Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the Word and chapter one reveals His nature.

The opening phrase, “In the beginning,” hearkens back to the first verse of Genesis.  Beyond question, the Holy Spirit draws our attention back to Genesis thus testifying that Jesus existed before the foundation of the physical realm.  From the beginning the Word existed, or as one man translated John 1:1, “When the world had its beginning, the Word was already there.”

In John 8, the Jewish leadership pressed Jesus to proclaim His identity openly.  After a lengthy exchange, Jesus ultimately declares, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  Jesus does not say “before Abraham was, I was.”  The Greek implies Abraham came into existence, he came into being, he was born, and he had a temporal beginning.  This is why several reliable versions such as the American Standard translate John 8:58, “before Abraham was born.”  In contrast, Jesus proclaims, “I am,” which implies eternality, timelessness, or an absolute existence.  Abraham had a beginning; Jesus, the Word, has no beginning.

Jesus is not only eternal He but also He is distinct from God the Father.  The Holy Spirit says in John 1:1, “the Word was with God.”  He reiterates this in verse 2:

HE was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through HIM, and without HIM nothing was made that was made.  In HIM was life and the life was the light of men. (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit presents the true Word as a distinct personality who existed alongside the Father before the creation of the world.

Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2:6-7 emphasizes Jesus as a personality distinct from God:

Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with the Father.  In other words, He did not consider His equality with God the Father a prize that He clung to at all costs.  On the contrary, He surrendered His equality – He relinquished His grasp – and “made Himself of no reputation.”  He literally emptied Himself, like pouring the contents of a full pitcher out to the very last drop.  He was with God the Father; He divested Himself of equality with God, and took on the form of a slave.  These truths point toward a personality distinct from God the Father.

Jesus is eternal, He is distinct, and He is divine.  The final thought stated in John 1:1 is “the Word was God.”  One could easily read “the Word was with God” and question the divinity of Christ.  However, the Holy Spirit leaves us no room to wonder when He says, “the Word was God.”  Verse 3 confirms the deity of Jesus:  “All things were made through Him; without Him nothing was made that was made.”  God involved Jesus in creating all things.  God made nothing without the Word including the Word Himself.  If the Word is not divine, He must be created.  God alone has no beginning; therefore, everything that is not divine is, by definition, created.  If the Father made all things through the Word, this must mean the Word is divine.  His involvement in every aspect of creation assures us of His divine nature.  He is Creator.  He is “God over all, forever praised!  Amen” (Romans 9:5).

Jesus was no ordinary man.  God sent a part of Himself to earth to teach, heal, and ultimately to die a sinner’s death.  I encourage you to get to know this extraordinary man whose substance is divine.  If you do know Him, get to know Him better.  Learn more about His life, His commands, and His message.  He alone has the words of life and in Him alone is life found.  He is the Word, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

Wade Stanley
~ 11709 E. 77th Terr., Raytown, MO  64138-2534

God the Father

Throughout time and inspired scripture, we find God revealing Himself to mankind in a variety of ways.  Romans 1:20 tells us “for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”  It’s amazing to think the vast creation surrounding us can declare God’s power and persona.  And it’s even more astounding and humbling to realize our knowledge of Him isn’t restricted to this wealth of information.  The book of Hebrews begins by saying:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Creation clearly shows God’s eternal power and Godhead.  His Son, however, is the brightness of His glory and expressed image of His person and reveals Him more specifically as the Father. This idea is echoed in John 1:14, where we find, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  A few verses later (verse 18) it says, “No one has seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”  In John 14:9, Christ Himself responds to Philip’s request to see the Father by saying “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

The idea of God being a Father is not completely unique to the New Testament.  While much less frequent, God is described as such a number of times in the Old Testament as well.  Passages such as Malachi 2:10 point to God as being our Father by virtue of Him having created us.  Paul in Acts 17 repeats this fact in verse 28 when he says, For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’”  The angels are also called the sons of God in the book of Job as part of His creation (1:6; 38:7).  God is even described as the Father of Israel, foreshadowing His relationship with His chosen people through His Son (Exodus 4:22).

However, the concept of God as a Father certainly seems amplified with the coming of Christ.  Christ refers to God as His Father numerous times throughout the gospels.  Jesus teaches His disciples to address God as Father in Matthew chapter 6.  The fact that God is “the Father” or “our father” is mentioned in nearly every epistle of the New Testament.  Seeing that God has gone to great lengths to reveal and reinforce this about Himself, it seems reasonable that it is a concept that is important for us to recognize and understand.

As part of the Godhead, Jesus Christ has a Sonship that is unique.  He is the only begotten.  Instead of being a son of God through creation, all things were made through Him; and without Him nothing was made that was made.  This Sonship makes Him superior to creation, a point alluded to in Hebrews 1:4-5.  But He is also superior and unique as the only begotten of the Father in His faithfulness as well. Hebrews 3:5-6 says:

Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

It was this faithfulness that caused the Son of God, the One through whom all things were made, to be made a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7) and learn obedience by the things which He suffered – despite being a Son (Hebrews 5:8).  This is why, although He was in the form of God, He made himself of no reputation and humbled Himself to the point of the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8) This is why we can have a relationship with God that goes beyond creature and Creator.  Rather, we can call the Master of the universe “Father,” and call on Him as such.  In Galatians 4:4-6, Paul writes:

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

As a result of Christ’s faithful Sonship and redeeming sacrifice, we can receive the adoption as children of God.  What an awesome thought!  To be able to cry out to God as Father, anticipate an eternal inheritance and even receive chastening for our own good is a great blessing.

Christ Himself makes it clear that the only way to the Father is by Him. Jesus says, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”   Speaking of Christ, John 1:12 says, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”  If we believe, accept and respond appropriately to the provisions God has made for us, we can be children of God.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1).

Zach Crane
~ 13901 E. Harvest Ln., Peculiar, MO  64078-9533

Our Spiritual Connection

Our family has recently been studying the Gospel of Luke.  As we have considered the good examples of Jesus, one characteristic that frequently jumped out was the efforts He put forth to maintain His spiritual connection with the Father.  One definition for connection is “an association or relationship.”  Let us consider some of the examples that our Lord gave us in maintaining our spiritual connection with the Father.

At an early age, Jesus understood a need to be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).  Jesus had the desire to seek the interests of the Father.  At the beginning of His ministry, He sought out John at the Jordan River.  He was baptized—not for any sins that He had committed, for He had none—but as He told John the Baptist, it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).  This was right in the eyes of God and gave us a pattern to follow (Matthew 28:19-20).  His longing was to please the Father.  Luke records that at Jesus’ baptism He prayed, again endeavoring to plug in to the Source from above (Luke 3:21).   The Father responded to His Son seeking and keeping His will.  Can we do the same?  Will God respond favorably to those who through obedient faith maintain their spiritual connection to Him?  After telling His disciples to ask, seek, and knock, Jesus said, “how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11b).

He impressed upon His disciples their need to maintain their spiritual connection to the Father when He guided them to go into their prayer closet and taught them how to pray (Matthew 6:6-13).  His life was not only a life of teaching about the importance and power of prayer, but it was one of walking the talk and gladly living the example of what He preached!  I believe this was one of the reasons why many “heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37).  He was not like the scribes for He taught with authority and then lived what He taught.

On the night before Jesus had a very important decision to make, He spent the entire night in solitude, praying and communicating with His Father.  What happened on that mountain we can only imagine but it’s safe to say that God was pleased with His Son!  For the next day He chose twelve men who would travel with Him and be eyewitnesses of His life, death, and resurrection, and who would carry on the work that He had started (Luke 6:12-13).  Do we seek God’s guidance and wisdom when needing help with decisions and choices?

One evening the whole city came to His door seeking the Great Physician’s healing.  After an evening of healing the sick with various diseases, casting out demons, and taking care of others, He arose early in the morning before daylight to connect with His Father (Mark 1:35).  Someone once said, “A day hemmed in prayer is unlikely to unravel.”

Jesus, through His communion with the Father, was in tune and in sync with the Father’s will and guidance.

In John 5:19, Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son does in like manner.”  “What He sees the Father do” is His fellowship with the Father.  “Does in like manner” is His faithful obedience to the Father.  Do we practice the same?  We hear God’s voice speaking to us through His inspired word.  We see through the eye of faith the wonderful works of our heavenly Father as we allow His light and His influence to come in and permeate our life.  The more time we spend in prayer and meditation the deeper that light goes, and the fibers of our conviction grow stronger!  Jesus knew and understood that the closer we get to the Source, the stronger our resolve is to do what is right, and our resistance to temptation is fortified.  James put it this way, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a).

Often Jesus would say, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).  Jesus ever had the Father’s will before Him, reminding Him of who He is, and why He was here.  How did Jesus remain disciplined and focused when there were so many issues pressing upon Him, attempting to pull and push Him in different directions?  I believe the answer is found in Hebrews 12:1-4:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

He denied Himself by staying focused.  His focus was on why He was here and Who He represented.  His focus was not on the suffering, shame, and anguish that He bore for our sins.  His heart was on heaven and the joy of saving souls from the destruction of sin, that they may share an eternal home with Him!  Jesus’ spiritual connection helped Him value what the Father values.  Will maintaining our spiritual connection not help us to see a thing as God sees it and value what God values?  To maintain our spiritual connection we must keep our eyes on Christ, remembering why we are here, Who we represent, and to Whom we belong!  Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, laying aside the sin and those things that will entangle us and cause us to take our eyes off the Master.

Even as His earthly ministry ended, as His final hours ticked down, what was Jesus doing?  He was maintaining that spiritual connection—praying with His disciples what is known as the Lord’s Prayer, and praying alone in the Garden of Gethsemane while the disciples slept (John 17).  He was praying the beautiful words, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42, KJV).  Again, while suffering on the cross, He lifted His voice to heaven.  Let us go and do likewise, following in the Savior’s example—maintaining our spiritual connection!

Dan Huff
~ 7 Ross Rd., Eldon, MO  65026-4416